Freeport, Bahamas - In an effort to continue ongoing recovery in the nation’s
second city, the government this week announced that two new ships will be
heading to Grand Bahama’s cruise port come 2015.
During a special press conference at Grand Lucayan, Prime
Minister Perry Christie announced that the Bahamas Celebration, which was
destroyed by an accident on October 31, will be replaced with the Grand
“The new “Grand Celebration” replacement ship comes with 50
percent more capacity and projects some 280,000 year round passengers with not
less than 100,000 electing to purchase a two or more night stay in GBI
combination with the cruise boosting room nights sold from just under 50,000
versus full year 2014 to 125,000 minimum 2015,” he said.
The ownership has also committed to
create new job opportunities for not less than 300 Bahamians in the first phase
of their operations and ultimately hopes Bahamians can qualify for 100 per cent
of the 632 jobs on this Grand Bahama based ship serving the island exclusively
from the Port of Palm Beach.
Meanwhile, the Balearia – a $100
million new vessel – will arrive in Grand Bahama this weekend.
Built in Spain four years ago, it
is one of the newer of the vessels in the company’s fleet.
The superfast cruise ferry sails up
to 23 knots in speed.
Amenities include a full breakfast
buffet restaurant, casino, a la cart restaurant, bars, entertainment for
children, spa and a tropical pool bar on the upper deck.
The ship has a capacity for 1,000
passengers and 200 containers. The ship sails from Freeport at 7:00 p.m. and
from FLL at 8:00 a.m.
As a result of the new vessel, 30
new direct jobs in the Bahamas and 150 indirect jobs will be created.
“The company is further solidifying
its relationship and partnership with Grand Bahama Island by moving all call
center sales from the US to Grand Bahama Island, supporting this MOT
initiative. The call center presently employs 30 Grand Bahamians who are
qualified to respond to queries about the Islands of The Bahamas as well as
book air, now sea packages,” Prime Minister Christie said.
“CEO Hernan Calvo thanks the
Bahamas Government for the endless help and support that his company has
received. He further states that any new ventures would not have been possible
without the permanent support of the Ministry of Tourism.
“The goal has always been to allow
visitors a “Grand Experience” on Grand Bahama Island. It is clearly evident by
the increase in investment; additional hotel rooms, new gateways from the US
and Canada offering direct airlift and sealift, we are creating the perfect
storm to guarantee “The Grand Life” to everyone visiting and living on Grand
Executive Vice President of Grand
Celebration Glen Ryerson said the company is happy to launch the new cruise
“This comes as a result of the
wonderful work of the prime minister, the minister of tourism, the director
general, the promotional board and so many others,” he said.
“Our goal is to bring more 100,000
people to stay on the island and we very much appreciate the partnerships.”
Chief Executive Officer of Balaeria Bahamas
Herno Caho also expressed his gratitude.
“Our new vessel is right here in Grand Bahama.
It’s a brand new vessel and it is one of the most modern vessels. It has the
capacity for 1,000 and a $100 million investment,” he said.
The new vessel will have new pools, a new casino
and a spa.
“We are improving our services and we are really
glad to be here to bring a newer and bigger vessel. We hope to give life to the
island and also all our passengers will come off and stay in Grand Bahama,” Mr.
The Balaeria will also have a package feature
that will begin in January 2015.